Store Robbed at Gunpoint | Choose your Takaway
You know those choose your own adventure activities in kids magazines? You read a paragraph then choose A or B continuation, read to your choice, then select C or D and so on and so forth. Even though they’re guidelines, you choose the story and most importantly the ending. Looking back on your life, you can’t change the ending of your stories, but you can choose your takeaway.
Burnished with fear, his wide eyes anxiously darted around the room as he restlessly paced across the back room. Quaking hands, the two employees quickly spoke to each other in hushed tones. “Yes sir, we have just been robbed at gunpoint, please hurry.” Chills ran down my spine. I continued to listen to half of the conversation over the phone with the police. Waiting for the police to arrive, my mind flooded with pictures of a man dressed in all black with bloodshot eyes waving a gun in the cashier’s face. Once the police arrived, they asked some questions before sending us on our way.
This experience was traumatizing to my twelve year-old-self. Living in Pennsylvanian suburbs this was not an everyday occurrence.
Cool story, but what’s the point?
Let your creativity run. There are many directions I could spin this story resulting in vastly different interpretations. Here are just a few possibilities:
A personal reflection and self-help topic discussing how fear fades with time. Normalization and consistency turn fear into numbness.
An expository piece exploring the cultural norms of growing up in Pennsylvanian suburbia.
A discussion on the importance of prepping children for the unexpected and grooming them on safety precautions.
An opener to a research article discussing why crimes still happen in suburbia.
A blog post illustrating the possibilities of storytelling ;)
So, the moral of this story is that you can decide what you want your lesson to be. Don’t stick with the first thing that pops into your head. Obviously, don’t stretch it too far or you will lose your credibility, but next time you tell or hear a story from a friend listen for the “lesson” and brainstorm other possibilities. It is an interesting exercise to gain perspective and flex your creative muscle. When you are at a dinner with friends or prepping for an interview, take that story you always tell and try framing it differently.
You can’t change the story, but you can choose your point.